Gay Teens and Suicide

When I was a boy living in Staten Island I was terrorized from grades 6th though 8th by a boy named Sal. He hated me. At the time I didn’t know, why but in retrospect it’s clear that Sal hated me because I was gay. He made my life hell and picked on me incessantly. In the school yard I would peak at him through the corners of my eyes and find him glaring at me. He would tease me, call me names and push me around with his two other mean friends.

As a gay doctor, I lecture to students at the Harvey Milk School in Manhattan, and I speak openly about being bullied as a boy. LGBT teens are more likely  to suffer from depression compared to heterosexual teens. Suicide is the leading cause of death among LGBT teens. They have higher rates of drug abuse, and as a result of their depression often engage in unsafe sex.

This week it was published that 1 in 5 gay men have HIV. The fastest rising group is among gay men ages 13- 24 years old.

Today I was deeply saddened by the story of Tyler Clementi, who took his life after a cruel webcam stunt in which his fellow students filmed him kissing and making out with another boy. After the video was streamed, Clementi changed his Facebook status to, “jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”

What was he so sorry about? What had he done wrong? Nothing.

I leave for San Jose today where I am to speak at a symposium on Gay Men’s Health. Part of my lecture is focused on LGBT teens. Bullying is very powerful, and it can affect young adults to take extreme measures. If you are a teen and feel depressed or suicidal, contact the Trevor Project hotline.

The Trevor Project hotline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Well, I know what your point is. He is sorry for the pain and suffering caused to those he left behind…

    Bullying is a terrible thing and the parents of bullies also need to be addressed.

    I was bullied as well during Jr. high. I didn’t know I was gay but everyone else seemed to… It was horrible.

    My mother saved my life by being who she was but I could have easily ended my life.

    I was able to talk to my mother about suicide and then later about being Gay when I felt comfortable, I knew she loved no matter what.

    I know that I am alive today because I was lucky enough to have the mother I had and to have the ability to seek help for my own mental health on my own when I knew I needed it.

    Messages in society and the fact we are second class citizens give Gay kids the message our lives aren’t worth living

    I really admire you for this work, this talking to teens and young people and being a role model for who you are is the best thing you can do.

    Thank you Dr. Spinelli for this important work and for being a role model to young gay people.

    Good for you!!


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